It’s happened to all of us before. You’re a little behind leaving for work, so you rush out the door and get on the road, right into heavy morning traffic. To make matters worse, there’s construction going on, blocking off one or two lanes. As you anxiously glance at the time and begin to increase your speed, a vehicle unexpectedly changes lanes and cuts you off, causing you to slam on your brakes. Stressed and irritated, you mutter something under your breath; perhaps you make a frustrated gesture or even yell at them from inside your car. This is a common scenario that often leads to aggressive driving, or worse—accidents. We understand that you need to get to work, but consider this: would you rather be 5 minutes late, or be even later because you were pulled over or got into an accident?
Should you catch yourself developing these negative feelings in a similar situation, we’ve prepared a few tips that can help you prevent and manage road rage.
1. Plan for the unexpected and manage time wisely
You never know when there might be a traffic jam or an accident. Aim to leave at least 10-15 minutes earlier than you think you need to. This provides you with a “time cushion” if you get delayed in leaving the house (can’t find the left sock, kids won’t get out of bed, dog made a mess, etc.). This way, you won’t feel as stressed if you leave 5 minutes late, because you still have 5-10 extra minutes to “spend.” You will also feel less inclined to speed, decreasing your risk of traffic citations and accidents.
2. Music therapy
Put on some music that puts you in a good mood. I don’t know about you, but I have found it difficult to get angry at someone on the road while listening to “Happy” by Pharrell.
3. Go with the flow
Do not try to “beat” traffic by constantly weaving in and out of lanes, trying to inch you way ahead. This mainly serves the purpose of making you more stressed, irritating other drivers, and increasing the likelihood of an accident. Aggressive driving will not get you to your destination significantly quicker, or at least, not enough to justify endangering yourself and others.
4. Consider the perspective of other drivers
If you realize that your exit is coming up and need to get over quickly and merge over rapidly, consider that others may interpret this as an aggressive act and get frustrated that you cut them off. They don’t realize that you were just trying not to miss your exit. Try to give other drivers the benefit of the doubt. If they cut you off or follow too closely, do not take it personally; instead, consider that maybe they have an important meeting or they might be having a tough morning. Trust that no one is intentionally trying to make your morning commute miserable. They are in the same situation as you, stuck in traffic.
5. Be courteous
If someone is trying to get into your lane and there is only one car length between you and the car ahead, it is better to let them in than to block them out. Not only will it prevent them from trying to force their way into your lane, but you will be less stressed as well. Besides, is one car length really going to make a difference in how fast you get to your destination? If you are merging into another lane and the other driver lets you in or if you accidentally cut them off, be sure to wave as a “thank you” or “sorry.” This goes a long way to calm the other party by acknowledging them and not just pretending that you are more important than they are.
6. No cell phones
Talking on the phone divides your attention. While you’re on the phone, If someone happens to cut you off, for instance, your reaction time may not be as fast, or at the very least, you will become more irritated because it distracted you from your conversation. It’s best to avoid as many distractions as possible when you are in heavy traffic.
We would love to hear from you! Do you have any personal tips or tricks you use to avoid road rage and deal with the daily commute? Share them with us in the comments!